Situational crime prevention is an area that has grown in significance over the past 30 years, both in terms of social policies towards crime and sociological / criminological solutions to “the problem of crime”; it involves, according to Clarke (1997), a range of measures designed to reduce or eliminate “opportunities for crime” in three main ways:

  • The measures are “directed at highly specific forms of crime”.
  • They involve “the management, design or manipulation of the immediate environment in a systematic and permanent way”.
  • They “make crime more difficult and risky, or less rewarding and excusable”.

One potential difficulty for a-level students new to the concept, however, is the number and variety of different examples of situational crime prevention – from spatial and environmental controls (Designing Out Crime), through different forms of target hardening, to various types of formal and informal population surveillance and beyond.

To help students organize and make sense of this material, therefore, it can be useful to categorise it in terms of different situational crime prevention:

  • Strategies – the primary level of organisation.
  • Techniques associated with these strategies – the secondary level of organisation.

In this respect the work of Cornish and Clarke (2003) is instructive here because they identity 5 strategies that can be used as a primary level of organisation for ideas about situational crime prevention:

  1. Increase the effort required to commit a crime: This deters a wide range of opportunistic crimes if the time and effort to commit them is increased.
  1. Increase the risks associated with the crime: Increasing the likelihood of apprehension lowers the likelihood of a crime being committed.
  1. Reduce the rewards of crime: If the value gained from offending can be lowered there is less incentive for crime.
  1. Reduce stimulus that provokes crime: Careful management of the social and physical environment reduces incentives for criminal behaviour
  1. Remove excuses: Clearly signposting behavioural rules and laws removes the argument that people did not know they were behaving deviantly or illegally.

The secondary level of organisation identified by Cornish and Clarke involves 25 different crime prevention techniques (5 associated with each strategy) that can be introduced to students if you want them to dig deeper into situational crime prevention. These ideas will be introduced and explained in a subsequent post (probably, but not necessarily, called “Part 2″).

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